Saturday, 23 August 2008

Lyon vs Grenoble, 23 August 2008

My 4th live match today, and my first from Ligue 1 this season. With Serie A and La Liga starting next weekend and introducing more competition into weekend evening viewing, I thought I'd get a Ligue match in early. I don't usually watch many matches on a weekend evening, as I tend to watch stuff with Sally then, and much as she loves me, persuading her to let me watch various foreign leagues on her weekend evenings is never going to happen. She's very good the rest of the time, and if there's something really interesting I want to see she'll let me. As she's out with friends tonight, I'm left with the French League for company.

Lyon won the league again last season, for the seventh time in a row, but found it much more of a struggle, with it going right down to the last day. Out has gone Alain Perrin, and in has come Claude Puel, and with him a rejuvenated squad. Most importantly, they have resisted several overtures from "bigger" clubs for Karim Benzema, which will be a massive boost this season. Against Lyon tonight are Grenoble, promoted from Ligue 2 last season, and a complete unknown as far as I'm concerened.

Lyon give some sort of proof of the unbalance that Champion's League money gives to a league - fortunate enough to be in the Champion's League at the time when the money really started to take off, earning more money, enabling them to outperform the rest of their league and contine to qualify season after season and earn more money in the process. It could almost have been any club in Lyon's position, but they were the lucky ones in the right place at the right time.

Lyon took an early lead after a corner after poor marking to give Grenoble a huge mountain (no pun intended) to climb to get anything from the match. The mountain got even steeper ten minutes before the break when poor marking again allowed Benzema to get his third goal in as many matches with a simple tap-in in front of goal. Lyon were playing some nice passing football without really ever reaching top gear. Lyon produced a controlled performance in the second half to keep Grenoble at bay without extending too much effort. It's difficult to assess Lyon's chances for the season based on this performance, but the ease at which they secured victory suggests they will certainly be up there this season, especially if Benzema can continue to keep banging in the goals.

It was mentioned during second half commentary that Valenciennes midfield David Sommeil suffered a heart attack during training on Wednesday. He was revived at the side of the training pitch by his team-mates, but remains unconscious in hospital. Also, a bus containing Marseilles supporters crashed on their way to a match at Le Harve today, killing two supporters and seriously injuring several others. Obviously thoughts go to all affected by these events.

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